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Are French Fries Vegan?


Sometimes in life, all you want is something greasy, salty, comforting, and incredibly unhealthy and for a lot of people, when thoseparticular cravings set in, French fries usually spring to mind.

French fries are synonymous with the fast-food industry and it’s safe to say that they certainly aren’t generally considered healthy or particularly beneficial or nutritious.

Does that mean that they should be avoided entirely? Absolutely not. After all, as the saying goes, a little of what you love does you good.

If you happen to follow a vegan diet and/or lifestyle, you may ask are French fries vegan? Well, that’s what we’re going to attempt to get to the bottom of today.

French fries may be made from potatoes, but they’re the go-to accompaniment to meat-laden burgers, plus there are numerous other factors to consider with regards to what constitutes a vegan French fry.

If you’re a potato aficionado and are thinking of going vegan but want to know whether or not French fries are vegan friendly, you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s a detailed look at whether or not French fries happen to be vegan.

Are French Fries Vegan?

Wavy French Fries

To set the ball rolling today, we’re going to start things off by looking at whether or not French fries are vegan.

They’re thin, they’re crispy, they’re salty, they’re rich, they’re indulgent, and sometimes they’re all that is needed to lift your spirits and put you in a much better mood.

Providing you enjoy them in moderation, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy French fries on a vegan diet. Or is there?

Generally, fast food outlets are not considered to be particularly vegan friendly.

Okay, more and more of them are releasing vegan options, but generally 99% of the menu of most vegan fast food outlets would probably not be considered suitable for vegan diets.

French fries in most cases however, are the exception. In simple terms, French fries are thinly sliced potato strips which are deep fried, and then dusted with a liberal sprinkling of salt, and sometimes other seasonings as well.

So, on paper, French fries are vegan as they’re basically thin strips of potato fried in oil and then dusted with salt.

The problem is that some places will deep fry their potatoes in animal fat such as lard (pig fat) or beef dripping (beef fat).

Needless to say, these are not vegan friendly oils. To make matters worse, some places will fry their French fries in regular oil, which has also been used to fry meat, fish, cheese, and other products containing animal derived ingredients.

Furthermore, some fast food outlets will use animal fats to make their French fries (we’re looking at you McDonald’s) so, again, those French fries would NOT be suitable for vegans.

Are Vegan French Fries Healthy?

Are Vegan French Fries Healthy

When people hear the word ‘vegan’ they automatically think of primarily plant-based ingredients which are renowned for their many health benefits.

Yes, vegan diets are plant-based and most plant-based foods are indeed nutritious, but that doesn’t mean that vegans are exempt from weight gain and the health issues associated with obesity and an unhealthy diet.

If you took a potato, sliced it into thin strips, deep fried it in vegetable oil, and then sprinkled it with salt, it would be 100% vegan friendly. Does that make it healthy? Absolutely not.

French fries, regardless of what they’re deep fried in, are widely regarded as one of the unhealthiest foods in existence.

This is largely due to the fact that, because they’re sliced so thinly, they have an increased surface area which results in each French fry absorbing more of the oil it is deep fried in.

As well as that, many fast-food outlets will use far too much salt on their fries, and too much sodium in the diet can result in an increase in blood pressure, an increased risk of hypertension, and an increased risk of cardiovascular health issues.

Contrary to poplar belief, it is possible for people on vegan diets to not consume enough vegetables, to become overweight, and to suffer from weight and diet-related health issues and eating French fries on a regular basis would certainly lead to all of that.

French fries should be consumed in moderation and reserved as a treat to enjoy every so often, rather than on a regular basis.

If you wished to make French fries healthier, you could oven bake them with a spritz of oil, or use an air fryer and less salt.

You could also up the nutritional content by making healthy sweet potato fries in the same way as we just mentioned.

Sweet potatoes contain vitamins and minerals, including an antioxidant known as beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body.

Which Fast Food French Fries Are Vegan?

French fries and the fast food industry go hand in hand together, so let us now take a look at whether or not the French fries they offer are in fact vegan friendly or not.

Are McDonald’s Fries Vegan?

Are Mcdonald's Fries Vegan
Photo 166100605 © Pavel SytskoDreamstime.com

If you were paying attention earlier, you’ll have noticed how we mentioned that McDonald’s French fries in particular, were not vegan friendly. But why is that?

Well, if you check the US McDonald’s website and read the ingredients of both their French fries, and their hash browns, you’ll notice that one of the listed ingredients is ‘Natural Beef Flavour’.

This natural flavour comes in the form of beef tallow, which is basically rendered beef fat. It also contains hydrolysed milk, which again, is off the menu for vegans.

Interestingly, McDonald’s have been sued by vegetarian and religious groups for advertising their French fries as suitable for vegetarians, despite the fact that they contain animal fats, yet they still have not changed their recipe.

Are Burger King Fries Vegan?

Are Burger King Fries Vegan
Photo 107591201 © Robert309Dreamstime.com

Burger King are probably McDonald’s’ biggest fast-food rivals and the good news for vegans is that their French fries are considered vegan friendly.

Now, Burger King haven’t actually posted the recipe for their fries, but by law they must print a list of allergens and there are no animal-derived allergens found in their fries.

The only issue is the fact that the fries are fried in oil which has been used to cook animal-based ingredients, although some restaurants have now started using vegan-only fryers for their fried products.

Are Wendy’s Fries Vegan?

Are Wendy's Fries Vegan
Photo 181269588 © DeutschlandreformDreamstime.com

If you’re on the road a lot, you will almost certainly be sick of the sight of Wendy’s as their restaurants are seemingly everywhere.

Good news for potato-loving vegans is the fact that Wendy’s have confirmed that their fries are suitable for vegan diets and are made from whole skin-on potatoes, which helps to slightly up the nutrient content too.

Unless specific requests are made however, Wendy’s fries are cooked in shared fryers.

Are Taco Bell Fries Vegan?

Are Taco Bell Fries Vegan
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When you’re craving something hot, spicy, and decidedly Mexican, Taco Bell certainly hits the spot. But what about their fries?

Well, Taco Bell are very open and honest on their website and state clearly that their fries and possible vegetarian options are fried in oil that could contain meat or animal derivatives and therefore cannot be classed as vegan or vegetarian.

The fries themselves however, are vegan-friendly, so again, if you asked specifically, fresh oil could be used, though that would be down to the restaurant.

Are Popeyes Fries Vegan?

No, we’re not talking about Popeye the Sailor Man, although come to think of it, he did eat a heck of a lot of spinach and spinach is one of the ultimate vegan health foods, so that’s something to consider.

Anyway, we digress, let’s talk Popeyes the fast food outlet. Popeyes is a popular fried chicken franchise though unfortunately it is not ideal for vegans.

According to online research, Popeyes uses beef dripping to fry their products, including their French (Cajun) fries.

Not only that, but the fries also share the same fat that has been used to fry the chicken, so the French fries from Popeyes would not be deemed suitable for vegans.

Are Five Guys Fries Vegan?

Are Five Guys Fries Vegan

Five Guys is a hugely popular burger franchise that is branching out across the globe. One thing you’ll notice about their fries is the fact that they’re made with skin-on potatoes, and they actually taste of potato. Who knew?

But, are Five Guys fries vegan? Well, according to the website, their fries are made from skin-on, freshly sliced potatoes that are fried in 100% peanut oil. They’re then salted, or served with a spicy Cajun seasoning blend if you go for the spicy option, and that’s it.

Furthermore, the majority of items served on a Five Guys menu, other than the fries, are cooked on a grill rather than fried, so there is far less risk of cross contamination.

Five Guys cannot guarantee that their fries haven’t shared a fryer with a product containing meat or animal-derived ingredients, but it is far less likely than in other fast food outlets because the menu is so limited.

Are Arby’s Fries Vegan?

Are Arby's Fries Vegan
Photo 175871843 © DeutschlandreformDreamstime.com

In many fast-food joints, the fries are considered an afterthought, but at Arby’s, the fries steal the show.

Arby’s’ homestyle and curly fries are the stuff of legend in many parts and the good news is that they do not contain any non-vegan ingredients.

Again, as you could probably guess, cross-contamination could occur in the frying basket as the fries are fried in the same oil that has likely been used to fry products containing fish, egg, dairy, and other animal derivatives.

Are Chick-Fil-A Fries Vegan?

Are Chick-Fil-A Fries Vegan
Photo 153835281 © Joni HanebuttDreamstime.com

Chick-Fil-A offer crinkle-cut waffle fries on their menu which are actually best-sellers and very popular.

Made from 100% potatoes, these waffle fries are allergen-free making them vegan-friendly on paper.

Furthermore, if you fancy a hash brown for breakfast, the Chick-Fil-A hash browns are also vegan-friendly.

You know what we’re about to say about cross contamination in the oil, though, so just be aware of that.

Are Jack In The Box Fries Vegan?

Are Jack In The Box Fries Vegan
Photo 172531445 © Eric Broder Van DykeDreamstime.com

Jack in the Box is a carb-lover’s paradise as they offer regular fries, hash browns, potato wedges, and their best-selling seasoned curly fries.

But, are they vegan-friendly?

Yes, they are, as they are fried in plant-based oil, and all potato options are listed as being free of allergens containing animal-based ingredients.

Yes, blah, blah, cross contamination of oil when frying. We know, we’re sick of repeating ourselves as well, but we have to make sure you’re all clear with regards to which products your potatoes share a fryer basket and oil with.

Are White Castle Fries Vegan?

If you’re familiar with the ‘Harold and Kumar’ movies, you’ll likely have heard of White Castle.

White Castle is another fast-food outlet which specializes in burgers, though they of course do plenty more besides, including French fries.

Now, White Castle doesn’t publish the list of ingredients used to make their fries, though we can see from the list of allergens that they are indeed free of animal-derived ingredients.

The only downside is that, because White Castle also fry certain menu items which do contain animal-derived ingredients, cross contamination is once again an issue.

Are Carl’s Jr Fries Vegan?

Carl’s Jr’s fries, both regular and crinkle cut, are vegan-friendly in terms of ingredients.

While we don’t know the exact recipe that they use for their fries, we do know that, thanks to the list of allergens, their fries are free of egg, milk, and seafood allergens and are marketed as vegetarian friendly.

Carl’s Jr obviously take a little more care with regards to their fries being vegan, as during January when the ‘Veganuary’ movement is in full swing, they really emphasize the fact that their fries are vegan-friendly.

This doesn’t prove that cross contamination in the fryers doesn’t occur of course, but many Carl’s Jr outlets have reportedly set aside fryers specifically for vegan customers.

Are Red Robin Fries Vegan?

Red Robin is a fast food joint that have catered more towards vegans than perhaps any other restaurant on our list today.

They offer a number of vegetarian friendly options that can be made vegan by substituting certain items or removing them, I.E removing the cheese and being mindful of which sauces you use.

Their fries, even though they are marketed as ‘steak fries’ are actually free from any animal products. They’re called steak fries because they’re the sort of fries you commonly find served with steak.

They also offer sweet potato fries, which are also vegan, and furthermore, you can request your fries to be fried in a separate fryer designated solely for vegan options and people with food allergies.

Because of the fact that cross contamination could still occur through human error, legally, Red Robin cannot market their fries as vegan, though most vegans are more than happy to accept that they are.

Are KFC Fries Vegan?

Are KFC Fries Vegan
Photo 175060199 © MrreporterDreamstime.com

Back in January for Veganuary, KFC released a vegan burger, which was met with a lot of scepticism and controversy.

Their fries, however, are made with vegan ingredients, but the problem is once again the oil they’re fried in.

KFC specialises in fried chicken, and they fry copious amounts of chicken every single day.

The fries are fried in the same oil as the chicken, along with other animal-derived ingredients and can subsequently not be marketed as vegan.

Are Sonic Drive-In’s Fries Vegan?

Once again, on paper, Sonic Drive-In’s fries are vegan friendly, along with their onion rings, and their tater tots, which also go well with a number of their vegan-friendly dipping sauces.

The oil they’re fried in is vegetable oil and is plant-based, but again, products containing animal-based ingredients will likely have been fried in the same oil.

Are Supermarket French Fries Vegan?

If you’re out doing your weekly grocery shop and want to find out whether or not supermarket frozen French fries are vegan, it is always recommended that you read the ingredients label on the packaging.

More often than not, they’ll be made from potato, vegetable oil, and salt, though many frozen products also contain artificial ingredients and preservatives, which, while likely being vegan friendly, are not renowned for their health benefits.

To really guarantee that your frozen French fries are vegan friendly, be sure to read the packing and look for products marketed as being ‘Vegan Friendly’.

How To Make Your Own Vegan French Fries At Home

How To Make Your Own Vegan French Fries At Home

We briefly spoke about making healthy vegan French fries at home, but now we’re going to elaborate on that somewhat to give you a viable vegan option to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.

To make these simple vegan French fries, all you will need is:

Ingredients

  • 2 large peeled potatoes
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Sprinkle of rosemary salt

Method

  • Peel your potatoes and slice them into very thin strips so that they resemble the fries you see in fast food joints. If you’d prefer more nutrients, go ahead and leave the skins on.
  • Heat your oil to 160 degrees Celsius, and when hot, carefully add your fries and deep fry, keeping an eye on them.
  • Remove them after a few minutes when they show signs of just starting to turn golden and crunchy. Set them aside and turn off the oil.
  • To make the rosemary salt, take a handful of coarse sea salt and a generous pinch of fresh rosemary leaves. Add to a food processor, and pulse until a fine, crumbly texture has been achieved, which is similar to damp sand.
  • Heat your oil to 180 degrees Celsius, and add your fries again and deep fry until golden and crispy.
  • When cooked, remove, drain on kitchen paper, and add a generous sprinkling of the rosemary salt and give the mixture a good toss.
  • Enjoy.

* For a healthier option, add a misting of oil to your fries and oven bake or air fry. * You can also use regular salt if rosemary salt isn’t to your liking.

Closing Thoughts

So, are French fries vegan? Well, without sounding like a stuck record, the main problem when it comes to French fries on a vegan diet isn’t the fries at all, but rather the oil they’re fried in.

For some vegans, this isn’t an issue as there is likely to be minimal cross contamination. For others, though, it is unacceptable.

You can of course request for your fries to be fried separately in a separate fryer where no animal-derived ingredients have been fried, and more often than not, the managers will be more than happy to oblige.

Just remember that, when dining out, you cannot guarantee that your products will be vegan friendly and that cross contamination hasn’t occurred, no matter how careful the kitchen staff may have been.

The only way to guarantee your French fries are 100% vegan is to make them at home.

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